A Postcard from Myrtle Beach’s Moral Pit

December 3, 2012 

If the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce isn’t already advertising around Pigeon Forge, Tenn., perhaps it’s time to start. We’ve even got a suggested slogan ready.

Myrtle Beach: We’re not as morally bankrupt as you might think.

It seems that our area’s been getting regularly held up as a dire warning by one particularly outspoken city official. Staunch teetotaler and Pigeon Forge Commissioner Randal Robinson has called out Myrtle Beach as an example of loose morals multiple times in recent weeks as the town has debated new liquor laws.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reported in late October before a referendum on the hard stuff:

“I’d like to keep us a family destination,” said Randal Robinson, a Pigeon Forge city commissioner. Robinson cited the “moral decline” in Myrtle Beach, S.C., after liquor was approved in that resort city and the “rougher crowd” liquor brought. “We've got a beautiful place, and I want to keep it that way,” Robinson said.

After residents ignored his prophecies of doom and OK’d liquor sales, Robinson wasn’t in any mood to let up, warning a few weeks ago that allowing people to have a martini with their steak or a margarita with their enchiladas will spell the death of moral society as we know it: “I think it’s a steppingstone to XXX, just like Myrtle Beach has done.”

Judging by news reports, it’s not new territory for Robinson, who previously railed against the obvious evil of allowing beer to be served on the patio of restaurants, rather than just inside. Kids walking by might see beer actually being consumed, horror of horrors, and we all know what that leads to. It was the first step, he warned, in a slide toward becoming Las Vegas or Atlantic City. One has to wonder what Pigeon Forge’s own local winery and microbrewery have to say about all this.

Putting aside the fact that Pigeon Forge sits in the same state that gave us Jack Daniels, still the nation’s oldest distillery, excuse us for not paying attention earlier to such comments. We must have been having too much fun reveling in our licentious den of iniquity here on the coast. Or at least we must have been when Myrtle Beach City Council wasn’t adopting a prayer to be said before every meeting. Or in between publishing letter after letter after letter urging folks to pray for our nation.

There had to be some moral decrepitude in the schedule somewhere, we just know it. Maybe when the area wasn’t hosting music festivals of contemporary Christian music or gospel greats. Or when we weren’t hanging out with local religious leaders at the annual North Myrtle Beach mayor’s community prayer breakfast? Or perhaps when we weren’t attending one of the dozens of local churches on Sunday morning.

In all seriousness, yes, we do have some seedy areas, and yes, we wish at times they’d disappear, but it’s not going to happen overnight and they’re not indicative of the entire Grand Strand by a long shot. Interestingly, after Robinson’s October comments were reported, Myrtle Beach officials received an email from an embarrassed Pigeon Forge hotelier, apologizing profusely for his silly town leader. We know where we’ll be staying next time we’re in Tennessee.

As for Robinson, as soon as your town’s perfect, feel free to start throwing stones at ours. Until then, it sounds like somebody could use a stiff drink.

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